This week marks the 68th anniversary of community water fluoridation.

Grand Rapids, Mich., became the first city in the U.S. to adjust the fluoride levels in its water supply to lower tooth decay rates in children on Jan. 25, 1945.

According to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fluoridated water now reaches more than 204 million U.S. residents—just under 74 percent of the population on public water systems. In 1999 the CDC proclaimed community water fluoridation as one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.

What follows is a brief roundup of recent fluoridation-related news and activities.

Santa Clara County water system receives funding

Sacramento, Calif.—The California Dental Association Foundation will contribute $500,000 to support a new Santa Clara Valley Water District community water fluoridation system.

The cost to fluoridate is an estimated $6.6 million. CDAF is one of three contributors. The Health Trust will contribute $1 million and First 5 Santa Clara County will contribute $900,000 for construction costs.

Student program: About 30 dental students from five Midwestern dental schools were invited to attend a special half-day program on fluoridation during the 2012 Regional Dental Public Health Conference hosted by the Department of Preventive and Community Dentistry at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry.

The water district board of directors voted Dec. 18 to negotiate with the three private funders for $2.4 million of the costs. This is a preliminary step in providing fluoridated water for about 900,000 residents.

“This is the largest community in the country that isn’t providing fluoridated drinking water,” said Dr. Don Rollofson, CDA Foundation chair. “The CDA Foundation approved this funding because it is a great public-private partnership that will benefit the oral health of residents.”

Before CDA sponsored legislation requiring fluoridation in communities with appropriate funding in the early 1990s, only 17 percent of California’s population benefited from fluoridated water.

“In the past decade, the number of Californians receiving fluoridated water has nearly quadrupled, and today, 62.5 percent of the state’s population receives the benefits of fluoride,” said CDA President Lindsey Robinson.

Portland City Council moves up vote

Portland—The Portland City Council voted last month to expedite a water fluoridation vote, setting it for this May, instead of May 2014.

The city council approved a plan to fluoridate in September 2012, but a petition to force a public vote would have put the measure on the ballot in 2014. By law, the city council had the option of keeping the original date, or moving it to an earlier date.

New resources added to ADA Fluoridation Toolkit

The ADA Fluoridation Toolkit, developed for dental societies and local coalitions working to initiate or retain community water fluoridation, features four new resources: new slides in the PowerPoint presentation that feature maps of states with recent fluoridation activity and percentage of cities in each state that are fluoridated; a new PowerPoint slide with a quote from the U.S. Surgeon General supporting fluoridation; ADA News and national news stories on fluoridation published in the last six months; and a sample speech that addresses claims that water fluoridation adversely affects African Americans.

Dentists who would like to advocate for water fluoridation in their community should contact their local or state dental society.

Dental students focus on fluoridation at regional conference

The 2012 Regional Dental Public Health Conference hosted by the Department of Preventive and Community Dentistry at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry focused its programming on the theme, Strengthening Community-Based Prevention Through Community Water Fluoridation. More than 90 dental and public health professionals from nine upper Midwest states attended the two-day conference in September 2012.

And, for the first time in its history, the conference also welcomed dental students to a special half-day program that focused on the national issues related to fluoridation. Rear Adm. William Bailey, chief, Division of Oral Health for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was among the presenters who spoke to students from University of Illinois at Chicago, Marquette University, University of Nebraska, University of Missouri at Kansas City and University of Iowa dental schools. Students also participated in small group discussions on fluoridation and attended a networking dinner with dental public health professionals from the region.

-Reported by Stacie Crozier